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Thursday, 11 April 1946

Mr Francis s asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

In view of the need for improved collections of famous paintings in Australian art galleries, will he remove the customs duty on works of art coming into Australia and thus facilitate this cultural improvement?

Mr Dedman - The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows : -

Oil or water-colour paintings imported by or presented to public art galleries or other public institutions, cathedrals or churches are admitted free of duty. In addition, the following are also admitted duty-free: - (o) Oil or water-colour paintings by Australian students or artists resident abroad for a period not exceeding seven years; (6) oil or water-colour paintings presented or bequeathed to the owner and not imported for sale; (c) paintings produced at least 100 years prior to the date of importation, classed as antiques and, as such, admitted duty-free. Oil or water-colour paintings other than those mentioned above are dutiable at the rates 'shown in the Tariff Schedule. These duties were originally imposed as a measure of protection for the work of local artists, and an inquiry conducted shortly before the outbreak of war indicated that the consensus of opinion among artists was that the duties should be retained, as it was feared that otherwise this country might be flooded with inferior productions, to the detriment of local talent. Whilst no objection was shown by artists to the admission duty-free of works of high artistic merit, there appeared to be no practicable method of assessing such merit.

Office Accommodation in Brisbane.

Mr Francis s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   How many privately-owned buildings in the city of Brisbane are at present occupied by Commonwealth departments?

2.   Who are the occupants of each building?

3.   What floor space' is occupied in each case?

4.   What is the total amount paid for rental of such floor space?

5.   When is it intended to hand back these buildings to their former occupants?

Mr Johnson - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   Thirty-nine. 2 and 3. A schedule showing the occupants and the amount of space occupied may be inspected by the honorable member in my office.

4.   The total amount paid as rent for all the premises occupied is £40,829 7s. 2d.

5.   Owing to the pressing needs of the Commonwealth, it is not possible to state when the premises will be vacated. They will be handed back to the owners as soon as it is possible to do so.

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